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Sports briefs, Sept. 28, 2011

From wire reports

Book says Payton abused drugs

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — According to a new book, Chicago Bears great Walter Payton abused painkillers in retirement and became suicidal.

In “Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton,” author Jeff Pearlman says the Hall of Fame running back used a cocktail of Tylenol and vicodin in retirement, kept tanks of nitrous oxide in his garage and even obtained Ritalin from a friend whose son was prescribed pills. Pearlman writes that Payton drew the suspicion of pharmacists and a warning from the police after visiting several drugstores to have a dentist’s prescription for morphine filled.

Payton’s longtime agent Bud Holmes is quoted as saying “Walter was pounding his body with medication.”

The book goes on sale Oct. 4. An excerpt appears in this week’s Sports Illustrated.

Ozzie era begins for Marlins

MIAMI — Fresh off a divorce in Chicago, Ozzie Guillen has been reunited with the Florida Marlins and owner Jeffrey Loria.

Guillen tends to speak his mind, while Loria leads the league in managerial changes, but both dismissed predictions about a rocky relationship as way off base.

“When we used to go to the winter meetings together, people went, ‘That’s a crazy combo,'” Guillen said. “But we know each other.”

So there’s no reason to anticipate Guillen ruffling feathers?

“I couldn’t care less about feathers,” Loria said. “I don’t have any feathers And I don’t care about him ruffling anybody. Ozzie has his opinions, and he’s entitled to them. You know that going in. But Ozzie comes with a great pedigree.”

And so the Ozzie era began in Miami. Hours before the Marlins’ final game in the stadium they’re leaving, they formally introduced Guillen as their manager Wednesday.

“It’s a big, big step in my career, a new chapter,” Guillen said. “Hopefully I can bring energy, flavor and enthusiasm, but the most important thing is a winning team.”

The announcement carried little suspense. Shortly after Guillen resigned Monday as the manager of the White Sox, his website leaked the news that he had agreed to become the Marlins’ manager. He agreed Tuesday night to a four-year contract and succeeds 80-year-old Jack McKeon, who is beginning his latest retirement.

The Marlins are staggering to a last-place finish in the NL East. With the team moving to a new ballpark and making a push for more fans and more wins, Loria wanted an experienced manager.

Judge allows only part of suit against Mets owners

NEW YORK — A judge said Tuesday that a trustee recovering money for investors who lost in jailed financier Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme “might well prevail” in efforts to recover some of nearly $300 million in fictitious profits he claims the owners of the New York Mets received from Madoff.

But U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said court-appointed trustee Irving Picard could only recover any of the $300 million he claims the Mets owners and their associates had received in principal in the two years before the fraud was exposed “by proving that the defendants willfully blinded themselves to Madoff’s securities fraud.”

Rakoff said Picard “might well prevail” in winning a judgment prior to a March 5 trial that the defendants must return some of the alleged fictitious net profits they received.

“How to determine which profits the trustee can recover remains an open question,” he said.

Rakoff’s written decision cleared some legal clouds that had been hanging over the team since Picard brought a lawsuit seeking $1 billion from Mets owner Fred Wilpon and others executives. Lawyers for the Mets have repeatedly denied Picard’s claim that executives should have known millions they collected from Madoff represented phony profits.

Rakoff said Picard can seek to recover up to $295 million in fictitious profits that he claims were paid out to the Mets’ owners during the multi-decade fraud, but he added that he has not yet decided whether Picard can pursue the entire $295 million or only $83.3 million, an amount accumulated by the Mets’ owners in the two years before a bankruptcy court filing occurred.

NBA lockout heads to key stretch this weekend

NEW YORK — NBA owners and players will meet Friday and perhaps through the weekend, with Commissioner David Stern warning there are “enormous consequences at play” as the sides try to preserve an on-time start to the season.

Talks ended after two days Wednesday so negotiators could return home before summoning their respective bargaining committees to New York for the most important stretch of the lockout. They are prepared to meet through the weekend if progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement is being made.

With the Nov. 1 season opener a little more than a month away, Stern said there would be “a lot of risk” to not having an agreement by the end of this week. But both sides said there hasn’t been enough progress to put them on the verge of a deal.

“I think it points more toward the calendar than actually being able to measure progress,” said players’ association president Derek Fisher of the Lakers. “It points to the realities that we face with our calendar and that if we can’t find a way to get some common ground really, really soon, then the time of starting the regular season at its scheduled date is going to be in jeopardy big-time.”

Miami guard Dwyane Wade has committed to be part of Friday’s meeting. And Fisher said the players’ executive committee could be joined by more of the league’s biggest names.

Wade was part of a meeting about labor issues at the 2010 All-Star weekend in Dallas, when players were briefed about owners’ plans for dramatic changes to the league’s salary structure.

“I look forward to learning something that I didn’t learn two years ago,” Wade told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “Hopefully, it’s different information, something that will move us forward. Hopefully we don’t walk out of the meeting back at where we were at the All-Star game two years ago.”

Milton Bradley arrested at a home in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES — Police say former Los Angeles Dodger Milton Bradley has been arrested for investigation of felony battery.

Police say the outfielder, released by Seattle this year, was arrested Tuesday at a San Fernando Valley home.

Police told the Los Angeles Times details of the incident were not available.

Bradley posted bail and is due in court Oct. 18. Attorney Harland Braun tells The Associated Press he hasn’t talked with his client yet.

Bradley was arrested at the house in January for allegedly threatening a woman, but no charges were filed.

Bradley has a history of problems. In 2004, he confronted an officer in Ohio. The Dodgers traded him to Oakland in 2005 after he threw a water bottle at fans and he had a clubhouse run-in with a reporter.

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